Opinion The Salina Journal Saturday, February 1,1986 Page 4: Tl Mtai T 1 1 ne Journal Founded In 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor More bids needed Too many Kansas school officials have forgotten about the state law requiring districts to accept the offer of the lowest responsible bidder. That became apparent in a legislative audit released last week. Apparent violations of the law were found in four of the eight districts audited. The Hays School Board last summer turned down a low bid from a Salina firm for a sprinkler system for the football field, instead awarding the contract to a Hays firm whose bid was $42 higher. Claflin school officials spent $2,000 more on a roofing project because they did not accept the lowest bid. Hays school district officials apparently attempted to stay under the $5,000 ceiling on purchases permitted without sealed competitive bids by making multiple purchases of the same items; in one case three purchase orders for clocks were written on the same day. Whether that tactic is legal remains to be seen. Sen. Ben Vidricksen has asked the attorney general to consider action against the school districts involved. What is clear is that, legal or not, the failure to solicit competitive bids was a betrayal of the public trust. The task of school board officials is to spend taxpayers' money wisely. All school distict patrons should demand that competitive bidding procedures be followed — even if that means some of the local district's business goes to out-of-towners. Banish asbestos The anti-regulators and anti- environmentalists in the Reagan administration finally have lost an argument. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a proposal to ban all use of asbestos within a decade. Asbestos is now banned only in the most dangerous cases. It likely will surprise many Americans that anything less than a complete ban on asbestos would be considered acceptable by anyone. Research shows that asbestos, even in tiny amounts, is a serious health hazard linked to cancer. Asbestos is considered so dangerous that schools across the nation have undertaken costly measures to remove or seal interior surfaces containing the substance. So who would oppose washing the human environment clean of such stuff? The administration's Office of Management and Budget apparently did, according to a congressional subcommittee report. The report said an OMB cost-benefit analysis had concluded that the lives saved with a total ban would not be worth the ban's expense. For a time the OMB apparently prevailed. About a year ago the EPA dropped the idea of a ban, reportedly at the OMB's request. Only now has the EPA reversed itself and come out for a sweeping prohibition. The authors of the OMB's callous calculus have lost their argument with humanitarians in the Reagan administration. That's comforting. Letters Bunny hug nonsense I read the letter by Elizabeth Jordan of Lindsborg in the Journal, Jan. 22. I'm getting tired of these people who write in talking about how cruel and inhumane trapping is. Trapping isn't a profession of imposing pain and suffering on the wildlife population. Trapping is a profession of harvesting surplus fur bearers, which are a continuous, renewable resource. The reason for the ignorance on the subject of trapping is partly due to the fact that the information put out by the humane society is a lot of bunny-hugging sensationalism. The local officers of the humane society seem to have absolutely no "hands on" trapping or snaring experience or any clue about fur- bearer management, damage control or! predator control. A good example of their knowledge can be found in the suggestion that we use llamas to keep coyotes away from calves. Some of the bunny-hugging humane society people probably think that we can keep our wildlife populations in control by rounding animals up and having them spayed and neutered. I don't think so. I have been trapping in Saline County for 10 years and have worked for a fur buyer off and on for five years. I have seen hundreds of animals in traps, and I have hundreds of pictures of animals in traps. I can say from experience that 70 percent of all animals I have trapped have been asleep when I arrived to check my line, with 99 percent having little or no foot damage — and never any loss of blood as suggested by Elizabeth Jordan. There are many good things that trapping accomplishes. It keeps populations in check and disease in control, and it helps the local economy. I know how trapping is done, because I'm out there doing it. I'm not about to be called sadistic or perverse by people such as Elizabeth Jordan or told how to manage fur bearers by someone as apparently uninformed as Gayle Rose, vice president of the Saline County Humane Association. -DAVID TANKING Gypsum City on the move? Congratulations to George Kathary for speaking out on the Salina downtown improvement project. So far no one except the "committee" seems to be in favor of this project. The merchants have no say but are assessed to help pay for it or go to court if payment is not received. The Elks building is in excellent condition, and was being renovated for a cafeteria and offices until the owner was told the building OK OR ^o^sJ-^^m r i^R3^sr SECuRVTYr"- UKt TO TjKKE ACN/AKJX^t OF OUR SPECIAL lOW ,, . Y4E VOU TO TLY VJnH US HUHT OUR fT?EQUENT O^SHES fKOGRAM?— Mow's THKTT.. ^00 6ET A TREE TU6WT AFTCK EACH Q?A5H NO,TH/MC(QU W wtNbu BE crnEO<iKiG AMY &H& wnu us TODAY?* ONE. . AND WUWt NWOUU5YOU MKE TW BN& To GO? Reagan shields Star Wars from deficit scissors BOSTON—In case you have been up nights worrying, there is at least one defensive shield already in place on this planet. It's the shield the White House is using to protect the funding for Star Wars. From all reports, it's impenetrable. In theory, the sword of Gramm-Rudman was supposed to cut budgets for every weapons program by 4.9 percent, including SDL But the administration raised its shield to make sure that the president's pet celestial project won't be nicked. As of this moment, the Star Wars program is perhaps the only sheltered workshop for scientists in the entire federal budget. Whether or not we can afford it, we are financing the highest-tech defense research in human history. The Star Wars money is going to be spent to further and produce the ideas of an elite cadre of scientists who — unlike Gramm, Rudman, or Reagan — are unknown to the average citizen. Now there is a glimpse or two into the world of the young scientists working on space-age weaponry. William Broad, a science reporter, visited a critical mass of them in Livermore, Calif., the home of the Lawrence Livermore Lab, one of the two nuclear research labs in the country. Here he found the men of 0-Group whom he dubbed "Star Warriors" in his new book by the same name. These warriors wear no green berets. They wear no uniforms at all, unless you consider jeans, checked shirts and running shoes a dress code. Nor do they eat regulation meals, unless a diet of fast food and ice cream is required. Broad's sketches make a composite picture of a group described by an inside critic as "bright young hotshots who are socially Ellen Goodman WASHINGTON POST maladjusted." An intellectual cadre high on Coca-Cola and competition. He retraces the way the best and the brightest graduates of MIT and Cal Tech were collected by the group leader, Lowell Wood, to work on nuclear weaponry. They were lured by a combination of money, high camaraderie and, perhaps most of all, the freedom to pursue happiness in the form of "interesting problems." As Peter Hagelstein, one of the more complicated personalities at Livermore and creator of the X-Ray Laser Beam, explained: "My view of weapons has changed. Until 1980 or so I didn't want to have anything to do with nuclear anything. Back in those days I thought there was something fundamentally evil about weapons. Now I see it as an interesting physics problem." The motives of a computer star-whiz, Rod Hyde, who was graduated from MIT at 19 are somewhat less earthbound: "What I want more than anything is essentially to get the human race into space. It's the future. If you stay down here some disaster is going to strike and you're going to get wiped. If you get into space and spread out there's no chance of the human race disappearing." There are snatches of psyche as well as philosophy to be culled from the Broad annals. Another scientist, Larry West, chose his field as a haven from a difficult childhood. "Science was a world that was pure and no • longer had emotions," he says. "It would; never go away and would never leave you. And it was always correct. There was always a right answer. So it had a strong attraction ' for me emotionally." •• ' But these snippets make the young Star; Warriors sound spacy. This is only part of the ; story. The atmosphere of the all-male 0- \ Group, reads like a science house fraternity,; complete with boyish pranks and com-! petitions. The brains who are the hired guns ; in the national defense scheme don't seem to know how to take care of themselves. There is no Wendy to make them get their proper sleep and food. But they are undeniably, scientifically brilliant. And (this is the kicker) they don't think a missile defense will work. As Peter Hagelstein said, "It would be very nice if we could develop a defensive network that would blow away all Soviet ICBMs. But I don't think we can do that. We could take out some. But ... it wouldn't, keep cities from being obliterated." So it appears that the Star Warriors, the men with both the background and the security clearance to know best, the men paid to imagine, don't believe in the crayon-colored dream of safety from nuclear weapons. Here we are, investing incalculable' amounts of money in the work of top-secret scientists who want to solve "interesting problems," but not the one that we're promised: security. Maybe a Washington Monthly writer was right when he described Star Wars as The Revenge of the Nerds: "They're back. They're angry. And they're building SDI." will come down. The Kinney store closed because it was to be demolished, and now the "committee" members have changed their minds and want to clcse a travel agency. If the alleys are closed, how will the furniture and appliance stores receive their merchandise, from Santa Fe or Fifth Street? Has a poll been taken of the merchants? Customers ask if any stores will be uptown to use all the parking. People will still want to park in front of the stores they want to visit. This all makes as much sense as taking out brick sidewalks years ago because they were a hazard, and putting in concrete. Then, for "beautification," the concrete was removed and brick sidewalk was put in again. The bricks now make it difficult to remove snow and ice and again are a hazard. When the demolition is finished, it will be too late for regrets. No wonder Salina's motto is no longer' 'City on the Move.'' -IRENE NORWOOD New Cambria Lottery is wrong Certain legislators and other citizens of Kansas seem to be advocating the anomaly of which some slanderously accused the Apostle Paul: "Let us do evil that good may come (Romans 3:8)." I am alluding to the proposed constitutional amendment to legalize lottery gambling. All gambling, in my opinion, is immoral and beneath the dignity of state government to promote and operate. Presumably, a lottery will provide some needed revenue, but according to numerous sources of evidence the benefits are dubious. For example, according to an excerpt from your newspaper (September 1985) cited in The Kansas Issue: "A Maryland study found that the poorest one-third of state households bought half of all weekly lottery tickets—and 60 percent of daily game tickets." While such revenue finances state operations the same as that from the rich, is this not in a sense "robbing Peter to pay Paul"? Who supports many of Maryland's poorest households but the more opulent households who pay the income taxes? Furthermore, over 99.999 percent of those poorest households that hope to improve their financial status by lottery will do the converse. In Massachusetts, for instance, the odds are 1.9 million to 1 against winning the largest jackpot. Hopefully, many who share my sentiments will get word to our legislators urging them to vote for morality rather than for what might appear to be expedient. -H.H.STEWART Portis Bush: The lap dog of presidential campaigning WASHINGTON — The optimistic statement "George Bush is not as silly as he frequently seems" now seems comparable to Mark Twain's statement that Wagner's music is better than it sounds. Bush's recent New York performance suggests that although the 1988 nomination is his to lose, he has a gift for doing things like that. Before his New York debacle, his most recent splash was in the waning days of the 1984 campaign when he had debates with Geraldine Ferraro and himself, winning only the former, and only sort of winning it. His performance earned — yes, earned — him the Washington Post's designation as "the Cliff Barnes of American politics," a reference to the "Dallas" character who the Post characterized as "blustering, opportunistic, craven and hopelessly ineffective all at once." Kinder critics referred to Bush's "hyperkinesis." After the debate, he bragged about how he had "kicked a little ass." Actually, he had applied his foot firmly to the inside of his mouth as when he claimed Mondale and Ferraro had said the Marines killed by the Beirut truck bomb had "died in shame." His charge was flatly false, and if it was not initially a lie it quickly became one as he refused to retract it. That rancid episode is relevant to Bush's New York shambles because, yet again, the question of his intention arises: Did he intend to talk rot? It is hard to believe that premeditation was involved in what he said about Mario Cuomo but, alas, he was not improvising, he was reading from a prepared text. Does he read such texts before rising to speak? A few days before Bush addressed the New York State Conservative Party, Cuomo, no Doonesbury George Will WASHINGTON POST slouch in the silliness sweepstakes, said he might run for president to disprove ethnic "slurs," by which he means speculation that an Italian-American cannot win. That is among the silliest reasons ever offered for trying to become leader of the Free World. Besides, speculation about the consequences of a particular ethnicity hardly constitutes a "slur." Cuomo is right to raise the matter of the sort of thinking that I have heard phrased this way: "If Cuomo looked like Bush, he would be the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination." Ah, but what if Cuomo had the handicap of sounding like Bush? This is how Bush sounded when characterizing Cuomo's thought in New York: "He's telling us to ignore the millions of blacks, Jews, Irish, Italians, Latins, and Poles who shattered the bonds of discrimination and built this great land...." You blew it, Bush — you blew the Samoan- American vote by neglecting to pander to them, too. But, unwilling to leave wretched enough alone, Bush slogged on: "Worst of all, he's telling us to be ashamed to stand up and be proud of this great land »» There he goes again, dishonestly tossing around the idea of shame. What Bush said is gibberish, but not just gibberish. It is a lie. And it suggests how bare Bush's mental cupboard is of themes. He began by accusing Cuomo of "divisiveness," another echo of the.. Ferraro debate, in which Bush accused Mondale of "telling the American people to divide (by) class — rich and poor." Bush's syntax was as muddled as his thought. But Bush's low point came with his smarmy sentence: "I can tell you one thing about the difference between a liberal politician and a conservative one: Gov. Ronald Reagan kept cop-killers in jail." That was a ten-thumbed attempt to squeeze political advantage from a complicated case in which Cuomo recommended clemency for a man who has spent 18 years in jail and who may— but who never was found to — have directly killed a policeman. Among those who have campaigned for clemency is William Buckley, not hitherto famous as a coddler of "cop-killers." Anyway, anyone can tell Bush-. one difference between a real conservative ". and a charlatan: A real conservative does not ; consider an office like the vice presidency a ; license to meddle in a state's system of . : criminal justice. ; The unpleasant sound Bush is emitting as • he traipses from one conservative gathering:" to another is a thin, tinny "arf" — the sound!* of a lapdog. He is panting along Mondale's-path to the presidency. > When Norman Mailer published a par-: ticularly dreadful novel, a critic — an op- : timist — titled his review "Mailer Hits Bot-T: torn." Realists replied: Not unless he-"; (Mailer) never again gets near a typewriter^! Concerning Bush, optimists say: Well, er; ] perhaps in New York he got the demagoguery: • out of his system.'' Realists say: That was not a momentary dereliction of taste; that was; '• part of pattern. - .. AND/1BOVBAU., ITH/NK PRBStPENr DUKE STOOD FOR. 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